How Seat Belts Have Added To Examples of Contributory Negligence

The injury lawyers in Edmonton that get called on to defend negligent drivers in a courtroom frequently rely on the chance to refer to a plaintiff’s contributory negligence. That common defense blames the plaintiff for not performing an action that would have made the plaintiff’s injuries less severe.

Consequences of such behavior

In a personal injury case, a court can reduce the size of a plaintiff’s compensation, based on evidence of such behavior. Courts have been known to deduct between 5 and 25% of the claimed losses, the ones that could be compensated. Understand, though, that contributory negligence is an incomplete defense. It reduces the size of a compensation package, but it does not remove the defendant’s liability.

Certain laws give defense lawyers an addition means for charging a plaintiff with contributory negligence. Recent laws on the distractive driving highlight one example of an act that can contribute to the occurrence of an accident. A more familiar law regarding the use of seat belts has served as such an example for several decades. After all, there are laws in Alberta that call for the wearing of a seatbelt by each passenger.

A close look at specifics in the seat belt law

The wording used in official literature about that law demands the wearing of a single seat belt. At no point does it suggest any reason for wearing 2 such devices. Lawyers in Alberta should make note of that fact.

There has been at least one case in which the plaintiff was told that she should have been wearing 2 seat belts. The attorney for the defendant tried to convince the plaintiff’s lawyer of the veracity of the claim made by the defendant’s legal team. That team hoped that their accusation would muffle any reference to the thin skull rule.

That is the rule that makes it clear that no defendant gets to choose the medical condition of his or her victim. In this case, the victim relied on the operation of an implanted device, one known as a shunt. That shunt extended from her head to her peritoneal cavity. The impact at the time of the collision had affected the shunt’s ability to function properly.

The collision had aggravated a recognized medical condition. The affected driver had to undergo surgery. Still, the dense team insisted on charging that unfortunate driver with negligent behavior. That charge got repeated throughout the negotiations. The repeated charge pushed the plaintiff’s lawyers to agree to a out-of-court settlement. Let that be a clear warning to all personal injury lawyers. Take the time to research any claim made by the opponent’s legal team. Then work to win a fair compensation for your client.